How to - The Healthy Gardener

Summer suncare

Protect your skin while digging in your garden with these expert tips

With gardens growing and flowers blooming,  suncare often takes a backseat to enjoying the beauty of summer. Over time, this bad habit causes irreversible damage that can easily be prevented with correct sunscreen application.

Skin that is frequently left unprotected will show signs of aging more quickly than skin that is protected, developing premature lines and wrinkles earlier, not to mention white, yellow and brown discoloration spots and telangiectasias (fine blood vessels). More importantly, leaving skin unprotected increases the risk for skin cancer, which can be lethal.

When it comes to sunscreen application, Dr. Lydia Evans, consulting dermatologist to L’Oreal Paris, feels there are many common mistakes made that can easily be corrected. Mainly, people make suncare an afterthought rather than a priority. By not incorporating sun protection into their daily regimen, they tend to apply sunscreen too late or too infrequently, sometimes skipping it all together by adopting the “I won’t get burned” attitude. However, even when applied, important areas are often forgotten or an insufficient amount of sunscreen is used.

This especially applies to gardeners. Frequently missed areas, especially for men, are the top of the head and ears; women will sometimes burn in the part of their hair. Less attention is paid to legs and tops of feet when choosing to wear sandals, and oftentimes the neck is completely overlooked, even though it has the greatest amount of direct sun exposure from habitually bending over. A good solution? Dr. Evans recommends applying sunscreen before you get dressed (a good idea in any case as sunscreens should be applied about a half hour before sun exposure). Since gardeners tend to do a lot of bending and shifting of positions, their clothing shifts, potentially exposing skin that is unprotected if sunscreen is applied after dressing.

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